Tanious v. The Empire Life Insurance Company, 2016 BCSC 110 (CanLII)
In this case synopsis, Tanious (the insured) won substantial damages from The Empire Life Insurance Company (the insurer).
Tanious worked as a compliance inspector and food safety auditor at Retail Marketing Solutions Canada Inc. (RMS). RMS provided compulsory total disability benefits. Tanious developed MS, and, as of December 28, 2011, her family physician determined that she was no longer able to work in any job. Tanious’ MS had left her feeling easily overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and extremely fatigued. She also developed cognitive problems, experienced weakness in her left leg, had periodic tingling on her left side, a weak grip strength, poor balance, and difficulty walking. Her employer terminated her employment on January 10, 2012.
The Empire Life Insurance Company advised her on March 26, 2012 that her claim for disability benefits had been rejected, maintaining that she was working and not totally disabled at the time of her employment, and that it was her addiction to methamphetamines that caused her to be unable to work. Under the insurance plan and policy, addiction related disabilities are excluded under the policy by which she was covered. As a result of these findings, they rendered her ineligible to receive any benefits.
Tanious commenced action against The Empire Life Insurance Company in 2015. Prior to and during the course of the proceedings, Tanious was relying on family to assist her financially and was still unable to meet basic life requirements including nutrition and supplements.
As a result, Tanious additionally sought an award of $20,000 – $25,000 for mental distress .
After reviewing the medical evidence, the Judge ruled Tanious was disabled by her MS and not drug addiction. Even though the drug addiction may have exacerbated the MS symptoms, the symptoms of the MS alone rendered her disabled. Additionally, the Judge found that the Empire Life Insurance Company did cause Tanious mental distress by erroneously rejecting her claim.
As a result, the court award Tanious $15,000.00 in aggravated damages for mental distress, her court costs, and the full indemnity payment.
Should you find yourself in a similar position to Tanious, and your benefits company is rejecting your claim, contact a total disability insurance lawyer to assist you in recovering money you rightfully deserve.